Without interaction, you have no community. Your forum may well be attracting visitors and a good number of them may be registering and becoming members, but unless they post and get involved, your site will struggle to be a success. Very often, active forum members are like gold dust – this doesn’t need to be the case, though.
Your member count is unimportant
Many forum developers boast about the number of members their community has. People are proud to declare they have 1,000 or 5,000 or 10,000 members, but upon further investigation the forum may have a low number of posts and few active members. The number of members your forum has will not determine its success – the amount of interaction and degree to which members get involved in the community will.
Forget about your member count and instead concentrate on encouraging your members to post and get involved.
New members need encouragement and prompting
Joining a new community can be intimidating for a new member. They are joining an established community as an outsider – they need to feel welcome, and they need to be encouraged to join in.
There are a number of ways you can encourage members to engage with your community; here are just a few ideas.
1. If you have a small community, consider a ‘Welcome’ section
This isn’t as effective if you have a large, established community as existing members will soon lose interest in welcoming new members twenty times a day. However, if your site attracts a few new members each day then a section of your forum dedicated to welcoming new arrivals can help encourage a new member to get involved.
Make sure you don’t just write a generic ‘Welcome to the forum’ sentence each time – this doesn’t really help you to engage with a new member. Instead, try to tailor your welcome – address them by their name, mention any hobbies or interests they have included in their profile and ask questions.
2. Ask questions to encourage interaction
Nothing is more effective at getting a member involved in your community than questions. Ask your new member where they are from. Ask your new member what their interests are. When they answer, ask them more questions. Don’t interrogate your members – just evolve a conversation through the use of questions and your new member will soon develop the habit of posting and getting involved.
3. Encourage and be enthusiastic
Starting a new thread can be intimidating – particularly for a new member. You can help reduce this natural hesitancy by encouraging members to create new threads. Tell your members that you are looking forward to reading their posts, and tell them not to be afraid of starting new topics or threads. When they do, thank them for starting a new thread and reassure them by telling them what a great post they have made. The more you encourage your members, they more they will interact and get involved.
Why active forum members are like gold dust
Active members do not need to be such a rare commodity however they usually are simply because the community developer fails to recognise the need to welcome, ask questions, encourage and reassure members. Instead, they focus on attracting traffic and boosting their forum member count.
You should worry less about your member count, and focus instead on getting your current members more involved. Pay attention to your members and focus on getting them to contribute and interact. By doing this, active members will be far less scarce and your community will become far more attractive and far more valuable.
Do you invest time encouraging existing members to interact more within your community? What steps do you take to get members more involved? Do you think a forum’s member count is more important than its post count? Share your thoughts and opinions by leaving a comment below.